Student Ingenuity on Display at Tech’s 2023 Design Expo

A crowd of students and guests looking at their projects throng around tables at the Design Expo 2023, where undergraduate projects are on display for the public and judges each year as part of Michigan Tech's commitment to hands-on learning.
A crowd of students and guests looking at their projects throng around tables at the Design Expo 2023, where undergraduate projects are on display for the public and judges each year as part of Michigan Tech's commitment to hands-on learning.
More than 1,000 students put in hundreds of hours on their design projects, which range from aerospace to human health innovations. The public is invited to come view the projects and talk to students at the annual event.

Michigan Technological University’s hallmark project-based learning will be on display to the public and judges Tuesday, April 18, in the 2023 Design Expo undergraduate student showcase.

Recycled asphalt pavement made with used motor oil, a climbing assistive exoskeleton and a human-following robot assistant are among the hundreds of life-improving projects exhibited at the 23rd annual Design Expo, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday. The showcase will take place on the first floor of the Van Pelt and Opie Library and in the third floor ballroom of the Memorial Union Building. A reception and awards ceremony follows from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.

A lunabotics rover built by Michigan Tech undergrad students on an Atlantic beach with waves in the background after a lunar mining competition.

On display at Design Expo 2023: The Multiplanetary INnovation Enterprise team’s Lunabotics Rover, seen here enjoying a day at the beach after a NASA lunar mining competition. (Image Credit: Timothy Hamilton)


Bre Tucker, Enterprise Program associate director of programming and campus engagement, said projects are organized by 15 themes, ranging from agriculture, food and natural resources to transportation and mobility. “Design Expo is a large event. The new setup will allow attendees to head to a concentration that interests them,” she said.

Huskies Do Real Projects for Real Companies

Huskies learn by doing at Michigan Tech through Enterprise and Senior Design programs that prepare them for early career success. 

Michigan Tech’s Senior Design program is known as a first job rather than a last class because senior-level project teams address practical, open-ended design challenges. 

In Enterprise, larger multidisciplinary organizations of first-year through graduate-level students work with clients to create products, deliver services and pioneer solutions.

Teams represent all five colleges on Michigan Tech’s campus: the College of Business, College of Computing, College of Sciences and Arts, College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, and College of Engineering.

Get event details in the Design Expo schedule.

Design Expo Includes First-Year and High School Students

For the first time, Expo will include projects from first-year students in engineering fundamentals as a way to encourage Huskies to begin innovating as early as possible during their time at Tech. 

In addition to the Michigan Tech teams, SOAR, an Enterprise team from nearby Dollar Bay High School, will also participate. Founded in 2010, the team designs, builds and deploys underwater remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). SOAR also partners with local community organizations to monitor, research and improve the local watershed. Their clients include Isle Royale National Park, Delaware Mine, OcuGlass and Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center.

1,000 students participating

41 Senior Design teams

25 Enterprise teams

16 student project teams

13 first-year engineering teams

vehicles displayed in the library

Sponsors, Judges and Enterprise’s New Leader

A panel of 82 judges including distinguished corporate representatives, alumni, community members and Michigan Tech faculty and staff will view and critique project videos created by each team, then come to the showcase to meet the competitors and ask questions.

Design Expo wouldn’t be possible without them. The event relies on generous industry and University sponsorship. Thompson Surgical Instruments is Design Expo’s 2023 executive partner. ITC Holdings is the event’s directing partner for the 12th consecutive year, joined by fellow directing partner Aramco. Plexus, OHM Advisors, Altec Inc. and Husky Innovate are collaborating partners. The College of Engineering and Pavlis Honors College are supporting partners. And, there are 90 team sponsors.

“We thank our industry and government sponsors who have made a strategic investment in our educational mission,” said Nagesh Hatti, Enterprise Program director and chair of its governing board. Hatti brought more than 18 years of experience across different industries to the position in August 2022. A professor of practice in Michigan Tech’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, he was well acquainted with the program before taking the helm. He advises the ITOxygen Enterprise team

“As an advisor of an Enterprise team for the past three years, I have seen firsthand the value it adds for our students,” he said. “I enjoy working with our students, team advisors and industry partners for continued growth and success of the program.”

Get event details in the Design Expo schedule.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.